Study Abroad Is ‘Learning You Can Touch…and Feel’ – News Center

Monday, 2023 August 28 • CONTACTS with the media:

Lynzie Ferguson’s recent study abroad experience in Busia, Kenya with her fellow Mavericks gave her the opportunity to find out first hand if being a traveling social worker is a career she wants to pursue.

“Seeing what their culture means to them through the experiences they gave opened a door to their world that you can’t get from a book or sitting in a classroom,” said Ferguson, a graduate student in the university’s School of Social Work. Arlington, Texas. “The care and concern that everyone showed us in such a short amount of time was like nothing I had ever experienced before in my travels. It was like we became part of their family.

UTA students in a group photo during their Study Abroad trip to Kenya" _languageinserted="true
Top row left to right: UTA students Wendy Thornell, A’Meicha Hall, Adil Haq, Ezekiel Oluwemimo, Mercy Ogunmoyin, Shauntaya Myers, Juan Suarez and Erica Torres

Bottom row, left to right: UTA students Anna Ballard, Catherine Brocato, Leslie Barrientos, Lynzie Ferguson and Diana Franco

Ferguson was one of 13 Mavericks who, along with School of Social Work professors Eusebius Small, Karla Arenas-Itotia and Tracy Orwig, shared rich experiences during their trip abroad. The trip was made possible by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s U.S. Student Education Abroad Enhancement and Diversity Program, which was awarded to UTA last year.

The UTA delegation cooperated with Orphan care and education team to provide three schools in Busia with learning activities, books and supplies. For some students in Kenya, this was their first experience with technology in the classroom.

UTA faculty members pose for a group photo in Kenya" _languageinserted="true
From left: Karla Arenas-Itotia, Eusebius Small and Tracy Orwig

“One of our students brought a laptop to school,” Orwig said. “Kids don’t deal with that in the classroom. The school I attended had eight tablets for the whole school and some of them were not working.

There were also several community engagement events where the UTA group interacted with local residents. Events that were supposed to last an hour turned into several hours of enriching conversations.

“There was this beautiful dialogue and exchange of culture and ideas in the most civil and magical way,” Arenas-Itotia said. “We weren’t there just to take it. We were there to give and serve. I think that was something really beautiful about this trip.

Ferguson encourages all UTA students to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. This was her second experience, having previously completed the year-long program as an undergraduate.

“Studying abroad has been enriching and life-changing,” she said. “I had access to experiences that I would never have had through travel alone. I gained insight and perspective about myself, my beliefs, my culture and the world.

Small said the study abroad experience is “different from any classroom learning. It’s learning you can touch, learning you can feel.

Godfrey Kemp

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